Thursday, January 17, 2008

It's Known As...The CSI Effect

Televisions ongoing influence on the way we perceive the truth.

The Creation

The past 8 years, a television phenomenon known as C.S.I has evolve an into entity of legendary status. Since their conception these shows have known nothing but success. Gaining a cult following known by only a few.These shows appeal to our captivation, and disgust, with societies ongoing violent behavior. Creating a scenario for the horrific murder of beautiful victims. Whose deaths will be solved by an equally attractive group of investigators. These shows have added to the network dominance owned by CBS. And the way these crimes are so speedily solved is more like science fiction than science fact. But what else should you expect from 40-45 minutes of air time. Because I doubt the truth would provide the same level of entertainment.

Fact vs. Fiction

Isn't it amazing how on these episodes, that once the crime scene has been quarantined, how the pieces to the crime are assembled like a simple jigsaw puzzle. The officers with rubbers gloves on hands; cotton swabs gently wiping, and cameras flashing, while quickly bagging and tagging all needed evidence.Let's not forget the new technology awaiting them back at head quarters. The lab filled with wall-to-wall bottles of chemicals, with the guarantee detecting unseen residue. The ability to lift a fingerprint from anything. Or the instant delivery of a toxicology report, which in truth it can take up to several months for the production of an accurate result. Let's not forget the down to minute accuracy for time of death. Which in the real world is never that accurate.

Pros and Cons

Since their introduction these shows have cause a debate as to their effects on a jury's decision making. It is not 100% proven; but it is believed that because of the shows popularity, and their almost 100% reliance upon science to solve every crime, juries find themselves doubting their common sense. They are no longer relying on means, motive, and witness testimony. They are now expecting an officer in a white lab coat to come into the courtroom and provide them with irrevocable proof of a crime as seen on TV. Cases the courts would have easily won, have now been acquitted due to lack of evidence.Maybe this is bad because it is allowing the guilty to go unpunished. Or it might be good because it is forcing the prosecution to deeply evaluate their cases, by providing a more detailed proof of guilt.

There's a new sheriff in town

I must admit that I kinda like CSI Miami, mostly because of Horatio Caine. He's not your cliche Hollywood police chief. You know the ones I'm talking about. The right in your face, unnecessarily yelling at the top of their voices. Truthfully I could never really buy into that. Because the idea of a grown man; yelling at another man that's packing a loading gun, seems like an individual that's begging to be shot. I like Horatio because he portrays the soft spoken demander of respect. Anyone not paying him this respect, soon finds out that he's walking softly, but he's definitely carrying a big stick.

The Effect

The numbers of loyal watchers is astounding. The CSI-Las Vegas 2005 season finally, "Grave Danger", was directed by the film maker Quentin Tarantino. This one episode had 35 million viewers. Now if that's not pulp fiction I don't know what is.After the first season of CSI-Las Vegas the number of forensic science majors has significantly increased. Making it one of the more popular majors on many campuses. West Virginia University in 1999 had 4 graduates. In 2000 enrolled 400 new forensic science majors making it the largest major on campus. So maybe this show's unrealistic approach to crime fighting may do a little good.One thing's for sure, CBS has proven that in it's own way, crime does pay.

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